Significant risks to river from Bord Gais project

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

THE clearing of the former gasworks site at O’Curry Street/Dock Road could still present “significant” risks to the River Shannon, Bord Gais has said.

THE clearing of the former gasworks site at O’Curry Street/Dock Road could still present “significant” risks to the River Shannon, Bord Gais has said.

Bord Gais is seeking planning permission to pump out the tar from deep underground the site, a complex process expected to last almost two years.

According to plans with City Council, Bord Gais will demolish the remaining boundary wall beside O’Curry Street, rebuilding it with rendered blockwork.

Boundary improvement works will be made to the St James Mews boundary walls, and a new layer will go over the whole site.

But after the application was lodged, City Council wrote to Bord Gais to express their concerns over the impact the tar being pumped out could have on the nearby River Shannon.

In a response, a Bord Gais spokesman stated: “The initial groundwater assessment identified there could be potentially significant risks posed to the River Shannon, and the limestone aquifer by the presence of benzene, phenol, ammonium, hydrocarbons, and to a lesser extent the lighter aromatic hydrocarbons identified in site soils and groundwater beneath the site.”

However, the spokesperson played down the possibility of immediate danger, saying: “Detailed assessment of the hydraulic conductivity and gradient however, suggest that groundwater will take 3.38 years to migrate the 100m, and thus contamination in most cases will take longer, thus allowing for increased degradation and dilution. In addition, the docks are likely to impede the flow of groundwater directly to the River Shannon altering the flow path in a longer, more westerly direction.”

There will be three phases to the remediation of the site; the initial works to prepare the site are expected to take three months.

Meanwhile, the first phase could take up to a year to complete, while the second phase is expected to be finished in six months.

Bord Gais is expected to employ 10 to 15 people to prepare the site, with a further 10 staff employed on the first phase of the scheme.

Up to 12 staff will work on the final phase, with the company saying that these workers are likely to be “specialists who will come in from outside the city.”

Development has not been possible on the site since production ceased in the 1960s.

Bord Gais confirmed it has no proposal for the site itself - but they hope that if economic conditions improve, it could “in future, support a successful and appropriate redevelopment project.”

City Council is expected to decide on the plan by the end of January.